On July 23, The Washington Post reported on documents showing officials at the Department of the Interior downplayed information that suggested protections be kept in place at Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. They also took pains to ensure the American people didn’t find out about the decision-making process behind President Trump’s eventual sharp reductions to those monuments.
The documents containing these shocking-but-unsurprising revelations were inadvertently published by Interior and later redacted, enabling the Post’s scoop.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s team blew the whistle on itself, suggesting that the chronically untruthful Trump/Zinke regime will only accidentally say what it’s really doing and why.
Since it’s hard to keep up, here are just a few of Zinke’s greatest attacks on the truth.
Highlights: Zinke’s contempt for transparency and the truth
- Zinke recommended the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante cuts in the face of widespread public opposition and without ever explaining how he made his decision. As has been widely speculated, and now confirmed by the Washington Post’s reporting, Zinke’s Interior Department emphasized the importance of mining, drilling and other extractive development as it made the case for reductions.
- Zinke and his top staffers even ignored their colleagues in deciding on monument cuts. Staff at the Bureau of Land Management—which is part of the Interior Department—admitted that monument protections probably prevented vandalism in fossil-rich Grand Staircase-Escalante as well as boosting the tourism on which nearby communities rely.
- CNN recently found Zinke's public calendar leaves out details about his meeting schedule and who he’s been talking to. It’s been about a year since Zinke’s office last updated the public about his upcoming schedule. In at least one case uncovered by media, Zinke met with a government contractor and obscured it with vague language on his official calendar.
- Zinke is embroiled in an investigation about whether a foundation he established violated conflict of interest laws by facilitating a shady real-estate deal with the chairman of Halliburton.
- Zinke's Interior Department has evidently suppressed climate scientists who won't toe the Trump administration line; omitted climate change from its strategic planning documents; erased climate change material from agency handbooks; and even cracked down on staff trying to talk about climate change. Zinke even went so far as to reassign dozens of senior-level employees, including the department’s top climate policy official-turned-whistleblower, Joel Clement.
- Two senior U.S. Geological Survey officials resigned after they said Zinke pressured them to violate the office's scientific integrity policy by sharing data before it was released to the public.
- Offices within Interior have reportedly tried to introduce obstacles to filing Freedom of Information Act requests, one of several steps taken to reduce public input.
- Virtually ignoring input from the American people at large, Zinke assembled a committee to assess royalties for energy developed on public lands and stacked it with fossil fuel interests.
You get the idea (we could go on for a long, long time). Zinke and his most trusted advisors have regularly shirked transparency or tried to cut the American people out of decision-making, helping to make him the worst Interior secretary in U.S. history.
We’re fighting the Zinke/Trump regime in court rooms and in Washington DC, with more and more evidence of their lies popping up every day. Check out why we’re formally calling on the Trump Administration to rescind its monument cuts and investigate the mismanagement and public deception behind them.